Cambridge Local First

Cambridge Local First COVID Response

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Cambridge Local First is a non-profit network of 400+ local and independent businesses here in Cambridge. Our mission is to support, promote, and celebrate a “local economy community” by educating the public and government about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of a strong local economy.

the past five weeks, we at Cambridge Local First have  worked tirelessly to support Cambridge’s local businesses. We remain determined to support Cambridge’s local businesses. In accordance with our three-pronged value proposition, our ongoing efforts center on small business assistance, education to the public, and advocacy: 

  • First, on small business assistance: 
    • We are connecting businesses with needed resources 
    • We have offered trainings on the following subjects: 
      • Technical assistance as businesses transition their services to online platforms like Zoom. 
      • Grants and loans to which our members can apply.
      • Employment law.
      • Regulation changes.
      • Revenue generation strategies. 
      • Rent negotiation.
    • We are organizing weekly community conversations. 
    • We are organizing a fundraiser for Scout Magazines, a critical partner of ours. 
    • We are disseminating critical information, including grants, loans, and services to our members daily. 
    • We are supporting rent release efforts.
    • We are actively amplifying small businesses across social media, with a focus on the business owners and their families. 
    • We are sharing information about online food delivery platforms with our members, so they can transition to online delivery.
    • We are amplifying existing organizing efforts among different industries, including restaurants and hospitality, and farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. 
    • We are working with a local startup, Community Phone, to offer free talking, texting, and office number forwarding to our members.
    • We are helping our members identify creative sources of funding including crowdfunding, with MainVest. 
    • We are partnering with Somerville counterparts to support Somerville-based businesses.
    • Our website lists resources for small businesses and is updated daily. 
    • Translating the terms of the federal stimulus package into understandable and actionable terms for our business members.
  • Second, on education: 
    • We are maintaining an online list of open small businesses, amplifying open businesses to the public, and encouraging them to consume locally.
    • We are amplifying small businesses across social media to the public. Our driving message is three-fold: 
      • (1) Order food takeout from local restaurants!
      • (2) Order merchandise from local businesses!
      • (3) Buy gift cards now for later use, and donate to GoFundMe campaigns for businesses and their employees!
    • We are partnering with our local media — namely the Cambridge Day and Scout Cambridge — to highlight the stories of our businesses to the public.
    • We are generating data and insights from the COVID-19 Impact Survey, which was sent to all of our members.
    • We are supporting, and amplifying, the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts’ directory of local businesses in the Boston and the greater Boston area that remain open for business during this time. 
    • We are organizing a Harvard Club panel of business and non-profit stakeholders in this ecosystem to discuss our efforts through a combination of technology and advocacy approaches.
    • We are disseminating information to the public over frequent newsletters.
    • We organize weekly community conversation that engaged folks across all relevant stakeholder groups and served as the predecessor to today’s conversation.  
  • Third, on advocacy: 
    • National level: We are co-organizing two national advocacy efforts: 
      • First, is the Save our Economy Now! effort, in partnership with the American Independent Business Alliance and American Sustainable Business Council. This is a national campaign to encourage the federal government to adopt these five recommended steps:
        • Provide federal assistance to small and mid-size businesses to cover expanded paid leave at 100%, and 100% of their employees’ health insurance.
        • Maximize unemployment benefits through federal government assistance so that laid-off employees can pay their bills.  
        • Restructure and/or defer bank debt and deliver adequate cash into the hands of small and mid-size businesses to cover lost revenue from the shutdown or turndown of business.
        • Pay insurance companies to cover standard ‘business interruption insurance’ for the pandemic.
        • Institute a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, utility shut-offs, and auto/equipment repossessions.
      • We’ve had hundreds of businesses and nonprofits sign on as partners, and nearly 1,000 folks have signed our petition.
      • Second, we’re partnering with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) to forward a campaign that recommends five steps on what the federal government needs to do to enable small businesses to survive the coronavirus crisis. These are: 
        • 1. Grants and subsidies to bridge the crisis, via automatic, rapid-response grants and payroll subsidies
        • 2. Low- and no-interest loans
        • 3. Federal bailouts should not exacerbate market concentration
        • 4. Suspend evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs
        • 5. Support for employees and customers
    • Local level: 
      • We are working closely with elected officials and government agencies, in particular Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon and Pardis Saffari fromthe the Economic Development Division of the Cambridge Community Development Department, to push for policies that support our small businesses. 
      • We are working with the City Council to finalize a policy order on online delivery apps that caps the fees and requires transparency.
      • We are working with the City Council to identify grant resources for small businesses.
      • We are an active member of the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition, discussing shared best practices and resources across non-profits working on the front lines in Cambridge.

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